President Barack Obama invited all 200 House Democrats to the White House late Wednesday afternoon, ramping up his outreach to Congress as the government shutdown drags on and with a week left before a potentially catastrophic debt default.
Later in the week, the president plans to host similar events with House Republicans, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans.
The first GOP meeting is scheduled for Thursday, when some House Republicans are expected to meet with Obama at the White House. The president invited the entire GOP conference to the meeting, but House Speaker John Boehner is sending only a handful of lawmakers to represent the group.
Republicans plan to send members of the party leadership and the chairmen of key committees, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said.
"Nine days into a government shutdown and a week away from breaching the debt ceiling, a meeting is only worthwhile if it is focused on finding a solution," Buck said in a statement. "That’s why the House Republican Conference will instead be represented by a smaller group of negotiators, including the elected leadership and certain committee chairmen. It is our hope that this will be a constructive meeting and that the president finally recognizes Americans expect their leaders to be able to sit down and resolve their differences."
In response, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama was "disappointed" that the entire conference would not attend. Carney also reiterated the president's opposition to negotiating on funding the government or raising the debt ceiling.
“President Obama is disappointed that Speaker Boehner is preventing his members from coming to the White House. The president thought it was important to talk directly with the members who forced this economic crisis on the country about how the shutdown and a failure to pay the country’s bills could devastate the economy," Carney said. "The president will talk to anyone anytime and looks forward to their visit to the White House, but will not pay the Republicans ransom for doing their job."
Chris Moody contributed to this report.